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    Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

    Health Sciences Leadership Series

    A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

    Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

    By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

    Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

    The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

    "This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

    Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

    The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

    Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

    With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

    "œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

    The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

    Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.

    Solving Canada’s shortage of health professionals means training more of them, and patients have a key role in their education

    A female doctor speak with a female patient
    A fundamental component for training health-care professionals is interacting with patients and families. (Unsplash/National Cancer Institute)

    Eighty-six per cent of Canadians are worried about their health-care systems. Health-care professional organizations like the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Association of Schools of Nursing are sounding the alarm about the severe shortage of health-care providers. This shortage is contributing to Canada’s health-care crisis.

    The ConversationCanada urgently needs more trained health-care professionals. While they may not know it, everyone in Canada can play a key role in educating future health-care providers.

    Each encounter that health-care students have with patients, families and communities helps them develop real-world understanding of the various needs of the diverse Canadian population.

    Canada’s shortage of health-care workers

    The House of Commons Standing Committee on Health’s March 2023 report titled Addressing Canada’s Health Workforce Crisis explored and substantiated this shortage of health-care professionals. This report primarily focused on physicians and nurses. Canada anticipates a shortfall of 78,000 physicians by 2031, and 117,600 nurses by 2030.

    Other professions are also sounding the alarm of practitioner shortages, including dental professionals, medical laboratory specialists, occupational therapists and pharmacists.

    In addition to these predictions, there are significant concerns about keeping the care providers we currently have. A 2022 report from the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions found that 94 per cent of nurse respondents showed signs of burnout, and over half wanted to leave their current job. Other health professions have raised similar concerns.

    Addressing the shortage

    There is no quick fix to these complex problems, and Canada is responding in a variety of ways. This includes recruiting internationally trained practitioners, funding strategies to improve retention and increasing educational seats to train more future health-care providers.

    These responses are being created from federal, provincial (such as Nova Scotia) and local levels. However, these strategies are not quick fixes and efforts may not be successful.

    Retention efforts have not been as effective as anticipated, as financial incentives do not appear to have the same influence they might have had in the past. International recruitment is fraught with ethical concerns and complex processes applicants need to work through in order to become licensed to practice.

    Each encounter that health-care students have with patients, families and communities helps them develop real-world understanding of the various needs of the diverse Canadian population. (Unsplash/National Cancer Institute)

    Education investments

    Significant provincial investments are being announced to create more seats in education programs for health-care professional students. The Alberta government is investing $72 million for 3,400 new seats in a variety of health-related training programs and $20 million for the creation of 120 new physician seats.

    Saskatchewan is adding 550 health-care provider education seats. Manitoba announced an investment of $200 million for 2,000 health-care professionals, including 80 new physician seats and four respiratory therapy students.

    Other provinces are also investing in a variety of ways such as educational program grants to expand enrolment in Ontario, and student financial support in Prince Edward Island.

    While increased training opportunities can increase the future workforce, having more students also requires additional resources and learning opportunities. Education for health-care professionals varies by the type of provider, and can range from certificate programs to graduate degrees.

    How Canadians can help

    We are a team of interdisciplinary researchers who teach health-care professionals in their foundational training. We know that despite significant differences in health-care education programs, one fundamental component for all learners is interacting with patients and families.

    That means all Canadians play an essential part in educating future health-care providers. With more students enrolling, Canadians will have even more engagement with students in health-care settings.

    Most health-care education programs include public interaction. Some public members purposefully engage. For example, some become guest speakers in classes, and share personal experiences with illness and health care. But more commonly, people engage with health-care professional students while looking after their health needs.

    Canadians can anticipate interacting with students in common health-care spaces such as pharmacies, physiotherapy clinics, dental clinics, public health clinics, doctor’s offices, hospitals or outpatient clinics. But students may also be found in less expected places such as food banks, non-profit community organizations, schools and community settings.

    Members of the public may feel less inclined to interact with students. This can be due to the perceived increased time it takes, worries about students’ knowledge or abilities, or because they might feel that they don’t have anything to contribute. However, it is important for Canadians to know about the benefits of these interactions for both students and patients.

    What Canadians can teach health-care professional students

    Research has identified that student encounters with public patients and family members contributed to the development of their communication, compassion and empathy skills. It also helped decrease stigma towards traditionally stigmatized groups and conditions, such as those with mental illness.

    Interacting with the Canadian public also increased students’ ability to use appropriate language and work with patients. It enhanced their self-confidence and their motivation in caring for the public.

    How does this impact Canadians?

    While these interactions benefit student learning and will help contribute to a larger health workforce, they have also been found to benefit the public.

    Research has found that student encounters can increase a patient’s sense of empowerment to participate in their own health with shared decision-making. Additionally, there is a potential for the improvement of overall health outcomes of patients. One study found patients were more knowledgeable and better able to manage their own medications after engaging with student practitioners.

    The shortage of health professionals in Canada, and globally, is of sincere concern. To address this, it is essential that we increase the number of professionals being trained. This requires the Canadian public’s assistance as they encounter more health-care professional students.

    Investing your time in interacting with students has benefits for the students and for you. Canadians can all play a part in building the future health workforce we desperately need. As health-care professionals, we thank you for the important role you play in educating and shaping our students and future health workforce.

    Bryn Keogh co-authored this article. She is an undergraduate student at the University of Calgary in communication and media studies and received an Alberta Innovates Summer Research Studentship.The Conversation

    Lisa McKendrick Calder, Associate Professor, Nursing, MacEwan University; Eleftheria Laios, Educational Developer, Queen's University, Ontario; Kerry Wilbur, Associate Professor and Executive Director, Entry-to-Practice Education, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of British Columbia; Lorelli Nowell, Associate Professor and Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs, Faculty of Nursing, University of Calgary, and Whitney Lucas Molitor, Associate Professor and Program Director, Occupational Therapy Department, University of South Dakota

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.

    How does the brain control your voluntary movements?

    Stephen Scott is inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences for his world-leading research on voluntary motor control.

    Dr. Stephen Scott, Vice-Dean Research at Queen’s Health Sciences

    This week, the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences announced its new cohort of fellows and included in this list is Queen’s researcher and Vice-Dean Research at Queen’s Health Sciences, Stephen Scott Internationally recognized for his pioneering work at the intersection of neurosciences and limb biomechanics, Dr. Scott is the inventor of Kinarm, an interactive robotic technology that allows for unprecedented insights into how brain injuries and diseases affect motor control.

    “It is a real honor and a privilege to get this recognition,” says Dr. Scott, who is also a professor in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences. “This fellowship reflects the work of my research lab, including staff, students, and postdocs – they are the engine underneath this research program.”

    The Canadian Academy of Health Sciences is one of Canada’s national academies and works to inform and support government and public decision-making in issues related to health sciences. Fellows are nominated by recommendation of national and international peers for their outstanding contributions to their respective fields.

    Career-building research and innovation

    Early in his career, Dr. Scott, who was working at the forefront of voluntary motor control studies, made the decision to turn his attention to translating his research into a commercial product with clinical applications. His spinoff company Kinarm uses virtual and augmented reality and robotic technology to assess brain function and catch the most subtle effects of impairment – the ones that can go unnoticed even for well-trained eyes.

    Traditional motor function tests usually rely on a clinician’s observations. For example, a patient might be asked to bounce a ball, or to touch their nose and then the doctor’s finger. These tests, while allowing important assessments, are limited in capturing the complexity of brain functions.

    Created in the late 1990s, Kinarm uses interactive robotics integrated with a virtual reality system that provides a general platform to study human behaviour. After the test is completed, Kinarm generates a detailed report that identifies how a patient’s behaviour differs from what is expected. This way, researchers have a better idea of the specific motor deficits a given patient is experiencing. It also permits a thorough observation of the patient’s recovery following therapy.

    Because the technology allowed researchers to measure body movements in a very robust way, Kinarm has had a tremendous impact within and beyond Dr. Scott’s lab. Today, 130 Kinarm robots are in use in neuroscience labs across 14 countries, with applications in basic and clinical research spanning topics like stroke, traumatic brain injury, brain tumors, and other neurological diseases including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson and Alzheimer's. Kinarm has also proved to be a valuable tool in investigating the brain impact of non-neurological conditions such, as critical care and kidney disease.

    This research program has been supported by several government and private sector stakeholders including the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), and the Ontario Research Foundation.

    Dr. Stephen Scott, with his robotic device, KINARM that can both sense and perturb planar arm movements.
    Dr. Stephen Scott, with his robotic device, KINARM, that can both sense and perturb planar arm movements.

    Building on successful innovation

    Dr. Scott’s most recent projects aim to look deeper into brain circuits and explore how motor, sensory, and cognitive functions interact. Using human and non-human models, his research group is investigating, for example, how sensory information is integrated to support motor skills. Besides its application in basic research, Kinarm also holds a lot of potential for clinical research and the development of new therapies for brain injuries and diseases. Collaborating with clinician scientists at Queen’s and across the globe, Dr. Scott is working to improve the technology to support clinical neurological assessment. “A lot of my work is trying to facilitate others to address how this technology can be used to help clinically,” he says.

    Dr. Scott’s extensive research outcomes have been published in over 200 papers in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals including Nature and Current Biology. His research program has also garnered numerous awards, including the GSK Chair in Neuroscience, the Barbara Turnbull Award from CIHR, the J.A.F. Stevenson Award from the Canadian Physiological Society, the Murray L. Barr Award from the Canadian Association of Anatomists, Neurobiologists and Cell Biologists (CAANCB), and the Premier’s Research Excellence Award. Dr. Scott is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

    For more information on the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences inductees, visit the website.

    Communicating research beyond the academy

    In-person workshops with The Conversation Canada will help Queen’s researchers reach bigger audiences with their expertise.

    [graphic image] Queen's University & The Conversation workshops

    Researchers are experts in their fields and understand how society can make use of their expertise to support critical thinking and daily decision-making related to a range of topics – from climate change, health, politics, and technology, to the economy, and many other topics. But communicating evidence-based knowledge has its challenges: what platform to use? Which aspects of the research are the most interesting to the public? How to address complex issues in a language everyone can understand?

    In two workshops hosted by University Relations, the editorial team of The Conversation Canada will walk researchers through these and other questions. The in-person, hands-on workshops will feature what makes a good article, how to explain your research effectively, and how to work with The Conversation to boost research promotion across mediums.

    The workshops will be held on Thursday, Oct. 5 at Mitchell Hall (see sidebar to learn more). Faculty members, post-docs, and graduate students are welcome to participate. Seats are limited, so register early to save your spot. Refreshments will be provided.

    The Conversation and Queen’s

    The Conversation, an online news platform created in Australia in 2011, pairs academic experts with experienced journalists to write informed content that can be shared and repurposed by media outlets worldwide. Following its success in Australia, regional editions began appearing worldwide and, in 2017, The Conversation Canada launched with support from some of the country’s top universities, including Queen’s, and Canada’s research funding agencies.

    As a founding member of The Conversation Canada, the Queen’s research community has embraced the platform as a unique tool for sharing their research expertise and engaging with the media. More than 291 Queen’s researchers have published 480 articles that have garnered over 9.8 million views via The Conversation Canada’s website. Through the platform’s Creative Commons Licensing and newswire access, hundreds of major media outlets, including The National Post, CNN, TIME, The Washington Post, The Weather Network, Today’s Parent, and Scientific American, have republished these pieces.

    From cryptocurrencies to how eating rhythms impact our mental health, Queen’s researchers have written on a variety of timely and timeless topics. Some of our most-read articles looked at the physical symptoms caused by pandemic stress, the drama of Haitian children abandoned by UN fathers, the extinction of a bird species, the rising popularity of spirituality without religion, and the negative effects of salting icy roads on aquatic ecosystems.

    The Conversation Canada and Queen’s University Workshops

    Thursday, October 5

    Session 1:
    10:00 to 11:30 AM (Click to register.)

    Session 2:
    2:00 to 3:30 PM (Click to register.)

    Rose Innovation Hub Space
    Mitchell Hall

    For any questions, contact:

    "The Conversation is a highly effective tool for knowledge mobilization,” says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal, (University Relations). “Through our ongoing relationship with the platform, we are building the profile and impact of our research community, helping to build connections between academic expertise and the wider world."

    The Workshops: How to Write for The Conversation

    The workshops will be led by Scott White, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of The Conversation Canada, and Lisa Varano, Deputy Editor of The Conversation Canada. The in-person program will highlight the changing media landscape, the role of The Conversation and researchers as credible news sources, and how to craft the perfect pitch. Participants will develop pitch ideas and can receive real-time editorial feedback.

    Queen’s unveils plinth honouring Black medical students

    University remembers those affected by a 1918 ban of Black medical students and looks toward a future of greater respect, representation, and justice.

    Photograph of the new Queen's Remembers plinth with attendees of the unveiling ceremony.
    From left: Mudia Iyayi (MD student), Patrick Deane (Principal and Vice-Chancellor), Raquel Oleksin (MD student), Jane Philpott (Dean, Queen's Health Sciences), and Lanval Daly (the second Black medical student admitted to Queen's following the ban) standing with the new plinth.

    Members of the Queen’s, Kingston, and Canadian medical communities gathered to mark the unveiling of a new Queen’s Remembers plinth commemorating those impacted by a 1918 ban that prevented the admission of Black students to Queen’s medical school up until 1965. In 2019, the university moved to confront its past actions, issuing a formal apology for the racist policy in an official ceremony and committing to ongoing efforts to support Black student access to, and success in, medical professions.

    “Today, we honour the Black medical students who were pressured to leave, and denied entry to Queen's medical school during this ban,” says Principal and Vice-Chancellor Patrick Deane. “It was a great injustice that altered their futures and the course of their lives and careers. This plinth, like others on campus, enhances our understanding of the university's history for community members and visitors to campus.”

    The ban’s impacts stretched further still, serving to perpetuate racism and health inequities.

    “This ban robbed these students of their dreams and pursuits as healthcare professionals, and impacted an untold number of others who would have benefited from their example and service,” says Jane Philpott, Dean, Queen’s Health Sciences (QHS). “Furthermore, it helped cement a broad legacy of racism in the medical profession that has jeopardized health and hindered equitable healthcare. This is a past we must know and continually confront, to evolve this crucial vocation into one that is increasingly inclusive, diverse, and just.”

    Moving toward greater representation

    The unveiling event was held in the Medical Quadrangle – an outdoor space adjacent to several buildings that once comprised the Faculty of Medicine’s earliest facilities – where the permanent plinth is erected. Oyedeji Ayonrinde, Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Chair of the Commission on Black Medical Students, served as master of ceremonies. He discussed the legacy of the ban and the formal apology and highlighted the gathering as a moment to acknowledge the past, recognize the present, and look with hope toward the future.

    Photograph of Dr. Oyedeji Ayonrinde at the unveiling ceremony.
    Dr. Ayonrinde speaking at the unveiling event.

    “With respect and dignity, this monumental reparative event honours the Black medical students egregiously excluded and banned by Queen’s.” says Dr. Ayonrinde. “We are enamoured by the Black community of Kingston and beyond for their family spirit of support, and look to the future with accountable hope.”

    Since the public apology, QHS has initiated several changes to help increase Black medical student representation within the faculty. The Commission on Black Medical Students was established and has worked to support and mentor Black medical students, staff, and faculty, and curriculum is in place that aims to educate MD students about the ban and its wider impacts. Currently, 14 Black medical students are studying at Queen’s – the highest number of Black medical students enrolled at one time in more than a century.

    “As Black medical students, being able to commemorate our forefathers is a bittersweet reminder of what was, and what has now become,” says Sabra Salim, Co-President of the School of Medicine Class of 2025. “By commemorating the difficulties our predecessors met, we are reminded that our existence as Black learners is joyful resistance.”

    “I am hopeful that today marks the beginning of an era for Queen’s – one marked by radical action towards making Queen’s a nurturing environment for Black learners,” says Grace Ayoo, MD student in the Class of 2026 and President, Aesculapian Society.

    Community, regional, and national support

    Members of Kingston's Black community presented Principal Deane with an original sculpture created in honour of the event by artist Chaka Chikodzi. The piece entitled “Honour. Dignity. Hope.” will be installed in the School of Medicine (SOM) building.

    The presidents of Black Physicians of Ontario and Black Physicians of Canada were also among the day’s distinguished speakers and guests, and they presented Dean Philpott with a commemorative plaque listing the names of students enrolled at the time of the 1918 ban which will also be hung in the SOM building.

    “The past is behind us but not forgotten. It’s ours to fix the wrong for a better today and a best tomorrow.” says Modupe Tunde-Byass, President, Black Physicians of Canada. “Black Physicians of Canada was founded in 2020, after the death of George Floyd. Our mission is to support, unite, and empower Canadian Black physicians and physicians in training like those in the audience today to amplify the Black voices and experiences within the Canadian health system.”

    Lanval Daly (Meds'71), the second Black medical student admitted to Queen’s following the ban, was a keynote speaker.

    “My journey represents the indomitable spirit that has driven generations of Black students to overcome adversity and excel in their pursuits,” says Dr. Daly. “This plinth does more than just recognize the past. It stands as a beacon of hope for future generations, reminding us that education should be a universal right, devoid of discrimination. It is a reminder that even in the face of adversity, perseverance and dedication can bring about monumental change. The steps we take today echo through time, offering a brighter path for those who follow.”

    Photograph of Dr. Lanval Daly delivering the event's keynote address.
    Dr. Daly delivering the event's keynote address.

    Students and community members underscored the significance of the day’s events through several musical and dance performances between speakers and at the conclusion of the ceremony.

    Efforts are campus-wide

    The apology followed research conducted by Edward Thomas, a Queen’s PhD candidate and current Associate Director of the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astroparticle Physics Research Institute, that showed that the ban was put in place to demonstrate alignment with discriminatory policies favoured at the time by the American Medical Association, the organization that ranked medical schools in North America.

    Since the apology, the university has moved to increase Black representation, access, and support across faculties, units, and institutional governance as well.

    University administrators also made a declaration of commitment to address systemic racism in 2020, initiating immediate steps and pledging ongoing actions. The following year, Queen’s became a signatory to the Scarborough Charter, a sector-wide agreement to confront anti-Black racism and promote Black inclusion across key priority areas. The university also launched a Black Studies program and hired several new faculty members in support.

    “We have dedicated ourselves to this vital work but there remains much to be done,” says Stephanie Simpson, who was recently appointed to the newly-created Vice-Principal (Culture, Equity, and Inclusion) role. “With social tensions increasingly visible across the globe, we have a responsibility to stand firmly against racism and bigotry in all of its forms, and to be an example of the inclusive, diverse, and equitable future we know is possible.”

    Photograph of the new plinth honouring Black medical students.
    The new plinth can be found on the Medical Quadrangle.

    Visit the Queen's Health Sciences website to learn more about its commitments to equity, diversity, and inclusion, or read more about the Queen’s Remembers series of plinths.

    Queen’s community remembers Janet Sorbie

    Janet SorbieThe Queen’s community is remembering Janet Sorbie, a former faculty member and head of the Department of Family Medicine, who died Aug. 22, at the age of 92.

    Growing up in Canada and Scotland, Dr. Sorbie first pursued medicine at Aberdeen University, where, during her studies, she served as president of the women’s student union.

    During her subsequent medical residency at Great Western Infirmary in Glasgow, she met Charles Sorbie, a surgical resident and future orthopaedic surgeon. The two were married in April 1957 and had three daughters in Scotland before moving to Kingston in 1965.

    In 1969 Dr. Sorbie would obtain a master’s degree from Queen’s and was then granted her doctorate from Aberdeen University in 1975.

    In 1977 she joined the Department of Family Medicine at Queen’s following a residency. She would then serve as the head of the department, starting in 1986.

    Dr. Sorbie was described as a superb and compassionate family physician and a wise and caring department head. She played a key role in expanding postgraduate training of family medicine in Ontario’s medical schools and northern programs.

    Dr. Sorbie retired in 1996.

    A celebration of life will be held at a later date.

    The full family obituary is available online.

    Royal Society awards

    Queen’s researchers John Smol and Jacalyn Duffin have been recognized by the Royal Society of Canada for their research excellence.

    [Photos of Drs. John Smol and Jacalyn Duffin]
    Drs. John Smol (Biology) and Jacalyn Duffin (History, Medicine)

    In acknowledgement of their outstanding achievements, two Queen’s researchers have been awarded medals from the Royal Society of Canada (RSC). John Smol (Biology) and Jacalyn Duffin (History, Medicine), who are both Fellows of the society, have each been recognized for their important contributions in advancing knowledge in their fields, marking the fourth and third times that they have been honoured by the RSC.

    "I was able to speak with each of the winners of the medals and honors attributed by the Royal Society of Canada and I was deeply impressed by their unique contributions to the fields of humanities, social sciences, life sciences, and sciences more generally," says Alain-G. Gagnon, President of the RSC. "What laureates bring to the advancement of knowledge is simply outstanding and will resonate both here and internationally."

    Sustained contributions

    Dr. Smol has been awarded the Sir John William Dawson Medal. Having previously won the Flavelle Medal (Biology), McNeil Medal (Science Communication), and Miroslaw Romanowski Medal (Environmental Science), the Dawson Medal represents an RSC career highlight. The Dawson Medal was established in 1985 to honour its first president and foremost Canadian scientist and educatory of his day.

    The biennial award is made for important and sustained contributions in two domains of interest to the RSC and recipients are selected by a committee of the presidents of the RSC’s three Academies and the College.

    Dr. Smol was recognized for his lifelong contributions to geology and biology. The former Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, Dr. Smol is recognized as one of the foremost experts in the study of long-term global environmental changes to lakes and rivers. As a paleolimnologist, he has contributed to our understanding of the impact of pressing environmental issues, such as lake eutrophication, acidification, contaminant transport, fisheries management, and climate change with a special focus on the Arctic. Dr. Smol is also the founder and co-director of Queen’s Paleoecological Environmental Assessment & Research Lab (PEARL), which has trained numerous students and researchers who have gone on to make impacts in science, policy development, and industry.

    Over the span of his career, Dr. Smol has been awarded more than 80 awards including the Gerhard Herzberg Gold Medal for Science and Engineering, the Polar Medal, and most recently, the Vega Medal awarded by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on behalf of the Swedish Society of Anthropology and Geography, as well as 15 teaching mentoring and public education awards. 

    "I am deeply honoured to receive this medal that recognizes interdisciplinary research," notes Dr. Smol. "If I have managed to do anything right in my career, it has been to attract outstanding students and other colleagues, from diverse disciplines, which has allowed us to jointly explore pressing environmental problems."

    Trailblazing the history of medicine

    Dr. Jacalyn Duffin has been awarded the Jason A. Hannah Medal for her book, Stanley’s Dream: The Medical Expedition to Easter Island (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2019). Established in 1976 with the assistance of the Associated Medical Services Inc, the biennial Hannah Medal is awarded for an important publication within the last five years in the history of medicine.

    This marks the third time Dr. Duffin has been honoured with the Hannah Medal, having previously been awarded in 2009 for Medical Miracles: Doctors, Saints and Healing in the Modern World (Oxford University Press, 2009) and 2001 for To See with a Better Eye: A Life of RTH Laennec (Princeton University Press, 1998).

    Dr. Duffin’s book Stanley’s Dream illustrates the 1964-65 expedition of an international team of 38 scientists and assistants led by Montreal physician Stanley Skoryna to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) to conduct an unprecedented survey of its biosphere. Based on archival papers, diaries, photographs, and interviews with 17 members of the original team, Dr. Duffin’s work sets the expedition in its global context within the early days of ecological research and the understudied International Biological Program.

    As a hematologist and historian, Dr. Duffin is the Hannah Professor Emerita of the History of Medicine at Queen’s, Dr. Duffin has advanced groundbreaking work on the history of disease, technology, religion, and health policy. She is also a leader in the medical humanities, an interdisciplinary field that examines the arts, humanities, and social sciences as they relate to healthcare education and practice. Dr. Duffin is the former President of the American Association for the History of Medicine and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine and was inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame (2019) and is a member of the Order of Canada (2020). Her most recent book, COVID-19: A History (2022), presents a global history of the virus with a focus on Canada and its scientific, social, and political impacts in the context of past epidemics.

    "Research and writing Stanley’s Dream was a fascinating adventure and an enormous privilege," says Dr. Duffin. "I am deeply grateful to the RSC, and especially to those nominators who considered my work worthy of this recognition."

    To learn more about this year’s medal recipients, visit the RSC website.

    Building our research communities

    Queen’s enhances undergraduate student funding to bolster inquiry-based learning across disciplines

    Students gather for the USSRF and USRA recipient BBQ.
    Queen's hosted the USSRF and USRA recipient BBQ at the Biosciences complex, on August 31.

    In an effort to increase research opportunities for students at all levels, Queen’s is nurturing a new generation of scholars through the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF) and Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA). The two programs have recently expanded to showcase all disciplines, providing rich learning experiences that shape future research leaders and innovators.

    Placing a greater emphasis on research as part of the undergraduate experience through “research and teaching integration”, is one of the pillars of the Queen’s Strategy. The USSRF and USRA programs cultivate an environment where undergraduate students learn with purpose, intertwining education, research, and guidance from supervisors and graduate students.

    “We believe that the research experience is an integral part of the learning experience,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “By embedding research into the fabric of our institution at all levels, we equip students to confront society’s pressing challenges with passion, curiosity, and ingenuity.”

    Investing in early-career researchers

    Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships (USSRF)

    The USSRF program connects students with faculty, fostering collaborative engagement and supervisor mentorship in research-based projects during the summer period. This year, the initiative was expanded to encompass a diverse range of research disciplines, resulting in an increased number of Queen’s undergraduate recipients – from 21 individuals in 2022 to a cohort of 101 in 2023, with 97 on campus and four students at Bader College. This expansion signifies a substantial advancement in both program participation and support across faculties.

    The USSRF program also underwent another significant transformation by elevating the value of the fellowships. The students selected for the program on the Kingston campus benefited from funding of $9,800 throughout the 16-week fellowship period. The Bader College fellowships were valued at $5,300 each, and covered return travel, along with room and board provisions during their eight-week engagement. The increased funding meant students could take a deeper dive into research, including conducting field work and hiring research assistants.

    The Queen's Inquiry Journal has published a special issue highlighting the collection of projects worked on by 2023 recipients. Read more about some of the research at Undergraduate Research Abstracts: USSRF and USRA Programs.

    Undergraduate Student Research Awards (USRA)

    Canada’s research granting agencies, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), have collaborated to administer the USRA program, in a bid to collectively champion high-quality research in diverse fields, encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, and the cultivation of multifaceted skill sets. In 2023, 77 Queen’s students received USRAs.

    Similar to the USSRF, the USRA program values diversity and inclusivity as crucial components of a thriving research environment. Presently, USRAs are designed to create a funding platform that promotes equitable research opportunities for Black-identifying students across Canada’s research landscape.

    Celebrating Undergraduate Research

    Principal Patrick Deane congratulated the group of recipients and their supervisors at the August 31 BBQ.
    Principal Patrick Deane addresses the group, congratulating students on their research achievements.

    Recently, the recipients of both programs and their faculty supervisors were celebrated at a BBQ hosted by Principal Patrick Deane, Nancy Ross (Vice-Principal, Research), and Stephanie Simpson (Vice-Principal, Culture, Equity, and Inclusion) held at the Biosciences complex. The Queen’s Gazette spoke to a few students about their research projects:

    An Ethical Analysis of the Use of AI Text Generators in Universities
    Nicholas Abernethy, Philosophy, USSRF recipient

    In an era marked by unprecedented advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), academia finds itself grappling with new ethical dilemmas around large language models (LLMs), such as ChatGPT. Nicholas Abernethy, a 4th-year undergraduate student, was interested in dissecting the moral, practical, and philosophical dimensions of this contentious debate.

    His project focuses on the intersection of technology and academic writing. Under the supervision of Dr. Udo Schüklenk (Philosophy), Abernethy’s research delves into the ethical labyrinth of AI coauthorship, navigating through the intricacies of plagiarism, accountability, and the very nature of authorship. At the heart of the research lies an analysis of whether academic journals should embrace the involvement of LLMs as coauthors in articles.

    “I’m interested in learning how the power of LLMs can be responsibly harnessed for the benefit of both research and researchers,” says Abernethy. “In many ways, the debate over LLM coauthorship centers on how we understand ourselves: What is it about humans that makes us deserve authorship? In what ways are we special? These questions have important implications far beyond LLM coauthorship.”

    He believes that in order to leverage LLMs, journals must adhere to specific guidelines, guidelines for which he has a proposed framework. As academia continues to evolve in the face of technological advancement, Abernethy’s work offers a critical vantage point for introspection and dialogue, reminding us that the fusion of human intellect and AI carries profound implications for the future of scholarship.

    Natural Language Processing of Radiology Reports:
    Predicting Metastatic Progression from Text Data

    Lola Assad, School of Computing, USRA recipient

    Fusing technology and medical science, Lola Assad has been working in the Simpson Lab on a project that marries cutting-edge AI techniques with oncology research.

    Using AI and natural language processing (NLP), the project investigates the power of NLPs to comprehend and extract valuable insights from textual data. At its core, the model is used to unravel intricate information about tumors embedded within radiology reports, ultimately predicting the progression of metastatic cancer.

    “The study of biomedical computing has provided me with the means of exercising my skills in problem-solving, and efficiently designing solutions,” says Assad. “I’ve been able to learn so much from my supervisor Dr. Amber Simpson, and my colleagues in the lab. I’ve gained knowledge on subjects I didn't know existed, developed my AI-building skills, and have opened my eyes to the wide range of subjects in the field.”

    Assad’s work highlights the potential for technology to reshape the future of healthcare, a future where AI augments medical expertise to revolutionize cancer care and diagnostics.

    Modulation of Mitochondrial Fission During Herpesvirus Infection
    Kyla Gibson, Biomedical and Molecular Sciences, USRA recipient

    Kyla Gibson’s research lies at the crossroads of virology, immunology, and public health. Under the guidance of Dr. Bruce Banfield (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences), Gibson is working to shed light on the complex interplay between viruses and host cells, specifically the role of a virus protein, pUL16, in regulating mitochondrial ATP production during herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection. A focal point of her research has been the enigmatic dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1), a key player in mitochondrial fission and a potential linchpin in the virus-host interaction, as it drives enzymatic reactions essential for virus replication.

    Gibson’s interest in this research area was ignited in the fall term of her second year at Queen’s, when during a course on Foundations of Entrepreneurship, she researched preventative healthcare strategies for the HIV crisis in Indigenous communities. This inspired her to pursue research addressing and dismantling healthcare inequalities, particularly concerning sexually transmitted infections.

    “I am interested in pursuing research to help diminish cultural and ethnic disparities in science,” says Gibson. “Being a Black woman in science and a Queen’s Commitment Scholar, has encouraged me to oppose the longstanding systemic injustices in research, healthcare and medicine.”

    The USRA provided Gibson with the ability to meet and collaborate with Masters and PhD students, in addition to her supervisor. Being able to problem solve with other early career researchers created a “different teams – one goal” atmosphere, one which she feels has greatly benefited her. Knowledge sharing has also been critical in helping Gibson navigate potential post-undergraduate educational pathways. 

    To learn more about these undergraduate research programs, visit the Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships and Undergraduate Student Research Awards websites.

    Exceptional scholarly achievement

    Five Queen’s students have been nationally recognized for their research and leadership skills with Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships.

    [Clockwise] Julia Moreau, Dilakshan Srikanthan, Ahmed Ismaiel, Daniel Reddy, and Mahzabeen Emu.
    [Clockwise from top left] Julia Moreau, Dilakshan Srikanthan, Ahmed Ismaiel, Daniel Reddy, and Mahzabeen Emu.

    Canada’s top funding agencies have announced the recipients of the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, one of the most prestigious national awards for doctoral students. Five Queen’s students are among this year’s recipients recognized for their exceptional research achievements and leadership skills.

    Announced as part of a $960M funding suite, the Vanier program helps Canadian institutions attract highly qualified doctoral students by investing $50,000 per year for three years during their doctoral studies.

    "My best wishes to all of the recipients of these grants, awards, and scholarships," says the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health. "The government is pleased to invest in your diverse array of health, natural sciences and engineering, and humanities and social sciences research projects because we know that your ideas, passion, and hard work, as well as the evidence you uncover, are instrumental in improving the health and quality of life of people in Canada, and your findings contribute to the international research effort around the world."

    Jointly funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), these awards recognize students who have demonstrated exceptional scholarly achievement and leadership in their research fields. This year, 166 students across Canada will be receiving an investment of $24.9M in funding over three years to support their top-tier research.

    "Queen's University is proud to welcome exceptional individuals who were awarded prestigious Vanier scholarships," says Fahim Quadir, Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs. "These remarkable students have earned national acclaim as beacons of excellence, charting a path to a brighter future. These scholars represent the tangible results of cutting-edge research, the impactful expansion of knowledge, and visionary leadership. We are profoundly honoured to be part of their academic journey."

    Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships


    Dilakshan Srikanthan (Translational Medicine) – Distinguishing Radiation Necrosis from Recurrent Glioblastoma Using Rapid Evaporative Ionization Mass Spectrometry


    Mahzabeen Emu (Computing) – Optimizing Beyond 5G Communication with Quantum Computing and Artificial Intelligence

    Daniel Reddy (Chemistry) – Design, Fabrication, and Testing of a Volumetrically-Accurate Nanoliter Metering Device for Liquid Handling and Microfluidic Applications Coupled with Liquid Microjunction Surface Sampling Probe – Mass Spectrometry


    Ahmed Ismaiel (Film and Media) – Saving Goddess Isis: The Crisis of Egyptian Rural Women Breadwinners in the Post-Arab Spring, and Collective Myth-Telling as Resistance Tool

    Julia Moreau (Psychology) – Promoting Socioemotional Wellbeing with Indigenous Post-Secondary Students: A Mixed Methods Approach to Evaluate a Mentorship Intervention

    For more information on this year’s recipients, visit the Vanier program website. You can also read about Queen’s success in recent SSHRC Insight and PartnershipNSERC Discovery, and CFI JELF grant competitions, in the Queen's Gazette.

    Bolstering support for research focused on big ideas

    The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council has announced $14.3M in funding to Queen's researchers to advance their innovative STEM and health research projects.

    [Queen's Art of Research Photo: "Colourful Cells" by Nathalia Yun Kim
    Queen's Art of Research Photo: "Colourful Cells" by Nathalia Yun Kim – This image depicts bladder tissue with Hunner lesion, an inflammatory disease. The image was acquired using imaging mass cytometry, a technology that allows the visual and computational analysis of the spatial distribution of dozens of protein markers on thousands of colourful cells within the tissue.

    Pursuing transformational research can be a long road. To make an impact on addressing major social issues or work towards ground-breaking discoveries researchers need sustained support to fully realize their projects.

    Today, the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages announced $11.8M in funding for Queen’s from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Discovery and Research Tools and Instruments (RTI) programs. Intended to support ongoing research with long-term goals, the Discovery programs provides multi-year grants that support operating funds and facilitate access to funding from other programs. The RTI grants program supports the purchase of critical research equipment necessary to pursue breakthrough research. The NSERC announcement is part of a larger $960M suite of funding announced by the federal government.

    "Our government is funding the top-tier researchers and scientists whose work makes Canada a world leader in research and innovation," says the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages. "These projects – from reimagining teacher education with Indigenous wisdom traditions to creating equity in mental health care to researching the impacts of space radiation and weather on Earth’s climate – will help transform today’s ideas into tomorrow’s solutions. This is why Canada is an innovation leader." 

    In total, 43 Queen’s researchers are recipients of Discovery and RTI program grants as part of today’s announcement. Additionally, in recognition of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic presented to advancing research, Minister Boissonnault announced a 1-year extension of existing NSERC funds. At Queen’s, 57 researchers will be receiving an additional $2.5M to support their active projects. 

    The Discovery-funded Queen’s projects:

    Subatomic Physics Discovery Grant

    Mark Chen (Physics, Engineering Physics, and Astronomy): SNO+ Scintillator Phase and Tellurium Operations (2023-2025) – $2,960,000

    Discovery Grant


    Robert Colautti (Biology): The Genetic Basis of Rapid Evolution and Constraints on the Spread of an Invasive Plant – $195,000

    Biomedical and Molecular Sciences

    Faith Brennan (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Microglia-Astrocyte Cross-Talk in the Central Nervous System – $177,500

    Sarah Dick (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Investigating the Mechanisms of Cardiac Macrophage Self-Renewal – $212,500

    Katrina Gee (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Deciphering the Molecular Mechanisms of IL-27-Mediated Innate Anti-Viral Immune Responses – $225,000

    Neil Magoski (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Plasticity of Electrical Transmission Regulates Synchronous Activity in Neurons that Control Reproduction – $260,000

    Chemical Engineering

    Kevin De France (Chemical Engineering): Functional Materials from Cellulose and Protein – $172,500

    Paul Hungler (Chemical Engineering): Development of Adaptive Mixed Reality Simulation for Training and Education Using Multimodal Machine Learning – $192,500


    Philip Jessop (Chemistry): Chemical Applications of Carbon Dioxide with Water and Amines – $415,000

    Lucia Lee (Chemistry): Functional Structures Based on Main-group Supramolecular Interactions – $152,500

    Nicholas Mosey (Chemistry): Materials for Energy Applications via Advanced Chemical Simulations – $260,000

    Kevin Stamplecoskie (Chemistry): Tailoring the Excited State Properties of Metal Clusters for Photonics Applications – $195,000

    Civil Engineering

    Leon Boegman (Civil Engineering): Physical-Biogeochemical Flux Paths in Lakes and Coastal Oceans – $105,000

    Amir Fam (Civil Engineering): Fundamentals of Laboratory-Based Rolling Versus Pulsating Loading Fatigue of Bridges Built with High Performance Materials – $295,000

    Jason Olsthoorn (Civil Engineering): Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Mixing in Lakes – $162,500

    Xiaying Xin (Civil Engineering): Development of Nanobubble-Enhanced Visible-Light-Driven Photocatalytic Water Disinfection Systems – $185,000


    Hesham Elsawy (Computing): Towards Diverse, Intelligent, and Perceptive 6G Network Architecture: Theoretical Foundations and Optimization Schemes – $172,500

    Nick Graham (Computing): Fostering Collaboration through Digital Games – $260,000

    Ting Hu (Computing): Interpretable and Explainable Learning with Evolutionary Computing – $205,000

    David Skillicorn (Computing): Data Analytics in Adversarial Settings – $180,000

    Electrical and Computer Engineering

    Melissa Greeff (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Toward Resilient Multi-Robot Collaboration in Emergencies – $167,500

    Ning Lu (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Constrained Online Learning for Wireless Computing Networks – $250,000

    Joshua Marshall (Electrical and Computer Engineering): Mobile-Robot Navigation, Control, And Mapping in Spatiotemporal Worlds – $210,000

    Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering

    Daniel Layton-Matthews (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering): Application of Non-Traditional Isotopes at Higher Spatial Resolution to Element Cycling in Mineral Deposits – $175,000

    David McLagan (Geological Sciences and Geological Engineering): Seeing the Forest from The Trees: Understanding Pollutant Biogeochemical Cycling Between Vegetation and Air, Fire, Soil, and Water – $187,500

    Kinesiology and Health Studies

    Brendon Gurd (Kinesiology and Health Studies): Mechanisms Controlling Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Human Skeletal Muscle – $220,000

    Mathematics and Statistics

    Maria Teresa Chiri (Mathematics and Statistics): Evolution Problems for Moving Sets – $162,500

    Felicia Magpantay (Mathematics and Statistics): Transient Dynamics in Deterministic and Stochastic Systems from Eco-Epidemiology – $195,000

    James A. Mingo (Mathematics and Statistics): Random Matrices and Higher Order Freeness – $185,000

    Mechanical and Materials Engineering

    Jackson Crane (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Detonation Chemistry and Propagation Dynamics: Experiments and Models for Next-Generation Engines – $197,500

    Claire Davies (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Participation Requires Communication:  Developing Accessible Communication Devices – $250,000

    Yong Jun Lai (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): Development of Ultrasensitive Biosensors for Rapid Pathogen Detection – $210,000

    David Rival (Mechanical and Materials Engineering): In Situ Lagrangian Measurements – $250,000

    Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining

    Julian Ortiz (Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining): Towards Geometallurgical Digital Twins: Stochastic Models for Risk Management of Mining Systems – $210,000


    David Hauser (Psychology): How Do Vaccine Resistors Recruit Evidence to Support their Beliefs and Meta-Beliefs? – $202,500

    Jonathan Smallwood (Psychology): States of Mind and Brain – Understanding the Neural Basis Behind Different Thought Patterns – $295,000

    Sari van Anders (Psychology): Social Neuroendocrinology and the Evolution of Diversity in Human Intimacy – $350,000

    Public Health Sciences

    Wei Tu (Public Health): Statistical Learning and Inference for Sparse and Heterogeneous Functional and Longitudinal Data – $147,500

    Smith School of Business

    Vedat Verter (Smith School of Business): Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics for Delivery of Mental Health Care – $210,000

    Research Tools and Instruments Grant

    John Allingham (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): Protein Structure Determination Facility Upgrade – $85,434

    Chantelle Capicciotti (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences): A Benchtop SPR Instrument for High-Throughput Interrogation of Protein-Ligand Interactions – $136,528

    Aris Docoslis (Chemical Engineering): A Raman Spectroscopy System for (Bio)Chemical Analyses and Materials Characterization – $149,500

    Christian Muise (Computing): Customizable Platform for Autonomous Agriculture Research – $146,183

    Nir Rotenberg (Physics, Engineering Psychics, and Astronomy): Tunable Pulse-Shapers for the Exploration of Dynamic Photon-Photon Interactions – $149,936

    To learn more about this round of Discovery Grants, visit the NSERC website. You can also read about Queen’s success in recent SSHRC Partnership and Insight and CFI JELF grants competitions in the Queen's Gazette.


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